The parents of a Black teenager who was attacked at a New York City hotel after a woman falsely accused him of stealing her cell phone filed a lawsuit last Wednesday over the incident, reports NBC News.
The suit was filed in state court in Manhattan against Miya Ponsetto, the Arlo SoHo hotel and a hotel manager.
Keyon Harrold Jr., who was 14 at the time, was in the lobby of the Arlo SoHo in December with his father, the jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, when Ponsetto accused him of stealing her iPhone. Ponsetto had left the phone in an Uber vehicle, and it was eventually returned to her.
Cellphone video that Harrold Sr. posted on social media showed Ponsetto accosting the father and his son and yelling for them to “show me my phone.” A man in the video who identified himself as the hotel manager can also be heard asking to see Harrold Jr.’s phone.
Security video footage showed Ponsetto, 22, rushing at and tackling the teenager.
New York police said the teen’s father “sustained scratches to his hand.” No other injuries were reported.
Harrold Sr. suggested that racial bias played a role. His attorney, Benjamin Crump, said Wednesday that when a “woman who is presumed to be White accuses a Black person of a crime, normally everybody accepts the word of the White woman.”
Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer, is representing the Harrold’s along with lawyer Paul Napoli.
“What the Arlo hotel did here is simple: They violated the human rights law of New York City … that requires hotels and other places of accommodation to treat all of their guests, whether White or Black, the same. And the Arlo failed to do that,” Napoli said.
Ponsetto, who lives in California, was charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault. Sharon Ghatan, a lawyer who is representing Ponsetto in an unrelated case, said Ponsetto was in New York vusutubg her father when she lost her phone.
“Things took a life of their own,” Ghatan said, denying that the incident was a “race-related issue.”